Within the first couple minutes of Charly, one of the main characters undergoes a profound personality change. The movie first shows Sam Roberts (Jeremy Elliott, The Singles Ward, Brigham City) playing basketball with his father. He looks like an ordinary, normal person, disturbed by the fact that his dad is setting him up with his boss' daughter. Then, at the airport, he meets Charly (Heather Beers, an almost Amanda Peet clone), and he has somehow turned into an uptight nerd. He dresses stuffily, coddles his PDA, and borders on being a geek. What happened? The movie never explains. Charly, based on the novel by Jack Weyland, is short on plot, so it tries to cram two stories into one. Both are formulaic of romances. The first is how two complete opposites who really hate each other will slowly fall in love. The second...well, let's just say that little pain may be a little more than what it seems.

The other difference is that Charly is the latest Mormon movie. This means that everything is more wholesome than it would be in a secular movie. Like most other Mormon movies, there is an amateurish sense about the whole thing, but director Adam Thomas Anderegg (The Touch) and adapter Janine Whetten-Gilbert are earnest enough (kind of like they are in their own little world) that Charly isn't as bad as it could be. The fact that one character is Mormon is the only original thing going on in the film. Charly is everything Sam is not. She is free-spirited, spontaneous, fun, and most of all, alive. His demeanor instantly turns him off, but for some reason, she finds his steadfastness refreshing. The two begin spending time together, and inexplicably begin dating. Charly eventually decides to covert to Sam's religion, and the relationship moves on from there.

So although Charly is now going to church, she still apparently meets no other men. Surely there are available men who are just as devout as Sam if not more personable. And Charly's parent lives in Utah but seem to be bewildered about the entire Mormon religion. The portrayal of Sam is not much better. He lives in his own little world, where he doesn't seem to acknowledge the fact that all people are not necessarily like him. When Charly's past comes back to haunt her, Sam freaks out in a predictable and dull manner. The Charly character does gain some depth as she tones down and explores other facets of life, but the Sam character remains as flat as when the film introduces him. The religious overtones don't come on too strong until the latter half of the movie, but it's actually a distraction because of how dull Charly gets.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 43 minutes, Rated PG for thematic elements.

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